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Belgian impact fund backs the entrepreneurial spirit on the Indian countryside

Belgian impact investor Incofin IM raises more than 50 million euros in a first investment round for its new impact fund focused on rural development and financial inclusion in India. The fund makes private equity investments in the Indian agri food value chain and in financial inclusion for rural entrepreneurs in India. The fund made its first investments in three promising startups. The committed capital comes from a diverse set of private and institutional investors including Korys (the investment company of the Colruyt family), CDC, Proparco, the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO), the SDG Frontier Fund, the King Baudouin Foundation and several Belgian family offices.

India as an impact investment destination holds great promise. It is a country with an aspirational, young population (86% of the population is younger than 55 years) focused on enriching their lives through hard work and entrepreneurship. At the same time, the country faces serious challenges like inequality (gender, education, family wealth) and a lack of technology,  organised supply chains, and access to capital. Although 65% of India’s population lives in rural areas, private equity investments have largely focused on urban companies. As a result, many budding entrepreneurs fail to realise their full potential.

The Incofin India Progress Fund (IPF),  wants to change this and supports these promising entrepreneurs to increase their chances of success through patient capital, mentoring and access to a global network. IPF will focus on two sectors which make the deepest social impact in the Indian context – financial inclusion and the agri-food value chain.

The Sustainable Development Goals to which the fund contributes: 2 Zero Hunger, 8 Decent Work and economic growth, 9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure, 12 Responsible consumption and production and 13 Climate action.

Agri Food Value Chain

Today, vegetables or grains often have to go through many intermediaries before they get from the producer to the store shelves. The long food chain leads to higher costs and generates significant food waste. There are plenty small agro-tech companies that can shorten the supply chain but they have difficulty accessing capital. The Incofin India Progress Fund intends to fill the gap. A more efficient supply chain with fewer handling points will also lead to more transparency and a reduction in food wastages.

The fund has made its first two investments in the agro-technology start-ups Unnati (https://www.unnatiagri.com/) and SuperZop (http://www.superzop.com/).

Financial inclusion

According to the World Bank, in 2017, India still had some 190 million adults who did not even have a bank account. The only country with more people without access to financial services is China. India has made good progress in this area in recent years, but it is mainly entrepreneurs in rural areas who are finding themselves closed to reliable capital sources and financial services.

Entrepreneurs therefore often fall back on informal sources of credit, which greatly increases the cost and risk of financing. In rural India, 84% of the credit needs of independent traders and SMEs are met informally. Traditional banks are more interested in large loans and are not very keen on doing business with rural customers. Using their services in rural India is much more complex and expensive than in cities: in an environment where business is often done informally, it is not easy to be able to produce formal documents.

Namdev Finvest is the first entity in which the fund has invested to increase financial inclusion (https://namfin.in/).

About the Incofin India Progress Fund (IPF)

The IPF is a private equity fund investing in high impact sectors, managed by Incofin India Investment Management and Incofin Investment Management.  It is Incofin IM’s first country focused fund and will target financial inclusion of the underserved/underserviced end customer and sustainable development of the food and agricultural value chain in India.  The fund invests through private equity in companies with high social performance management practices that also generate a positive and measurable impact for their end clients.

About Incofin Investment Management (Incofin IM)

Incofin Investment Management is an independent emerging markets focused impact investment fund manager, focused on financial inclusion, the agri-food value chain and safe water, driven by a purpose to promote inclusive progress.  Incofin IM is an AIFM licensed fund manager and has over EUR 1 billion in assets under management.  Incofin has a team of more than 70 professionals spread over its headquarters in Belgium and local investment teams in India, Colombia, Kenya and Cambodia.

As a leading impact investment firm, Incofin has invested (via equity and debt financing) over EUR 2.7 billion in more than 320 investees, financial institutions and SMEs in the agri-food value chain, across 65 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and Eastern Europe.
www.incofin.com

About Korys

Korys is the investment company of the Colruyt family. Today, it has more than EUR 4.5 billion of assets under management. Besides holding a significant participation in the Colruyt Group, a leading retail company in Belgium and France, it actively manages participations in privately held companies and in private equity funds. Korys has also set up proprietary funds to manage its portfolio of listed investments. Across its activities, Korys’ investment decisions are taken with a long-term perspective and on basis of strict economic (Profit), social (People) and ecological (Planet) criteria. Korys aims to create sustainable value in three major ecosystems: Life Sciences, Energy Transition and Conscious Consumer. To do this, Korys can count on a motivated team of 30 professionals based in Belgium and Luxembourg.
www.korys.be

About CDC Group

CDC is the UK’s development finance institution with over 70 years of experience of successfully supporting the sustainable, long-term growth of businesses in Africa and South Asia. The company has investments in over 1,200 businesses in emerging economies and a total portfolio value of GBP 5.8bn. CDC is funded by the UK government and all proceeds from its investments are reinvested to improve the lives of millions of people in Africa and South Asia.
www.cdcgroup.com

About Proparco

Proparco, the private sector financing arm of Agence Française de Développement (AFD), has been working to support development in Southern countries for 40 years. It plays a key role in AFD Group and the French cooperation mechanism: financing and support for projects led by companies and financial institutions in developing and emerging countries – from SMEs to regional banking groups, including microfinance institutions.
www.proparco.fr

About the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO)

BIO is a Development Finance Institution that supports private sector growth in developing countries. BIO provides long-term financing to enterprises, financial institutions, and private infrastructure projects, as well as grants for feasibility studies and technical assistance programmes. BIO operates as an additional partner to financial institutions and aims to maximise both development impact and return on investment. BIO is a member of EDFI (European Development Finance Institutions) and has more than 1 billion Euros of assets under management.
www.bio-invest.be

About SDG Frontier Fund

The SDG Frontier Fund is a close-ended, self-managed private equity fund of Funds, focusing on SME’s across sectors in frontier markets of Africa and Asia to promote job creation and sustainable economic growth. In its first closing the SDG Frontier Fund has partnered with nine institutional and private investors, including AG Insurance, Belfius Insurance, vdk bank and King Baudouin Foundation. The SDG Frontier Fund already approved investments in African Rivers Fund III, the Excelsior Capital Vietnam Private Equity Fund, and the Ascent Rift Valley Fund II.
https://www.bio-invest.be/en/sdg-frontier-fund

About King Baudouin Foundation (KBS)

The King Baudouin Foundation’s mission is to contribute to a better society in Belgium, in Europe and in the world. The Foundation is an actor for change and innovation in Belgium and Europe, serving the public interest and increasing social cohesion. It seeks to maximise its impact by improving skills in organisations and for individuals. It also stimulates effective philanthropy by individuals and corporations.
https://www.kbs-frb.be/

 

 

 

 

 

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